Councillor's £430 stay at 5 star Horse Guards Parade Hotel
SECRET documents revealed to Stroud Life show the cause of a long-running expenses row was a £430 stay at a five-star London hotel by a leading councillor.
Councillor Chas Fellows was cleared of wrongdoing by the Standards Board for England amid a fierce row over expenses in 2009. Now leaked documents show it was this stay at the Horse Guards Parade Hotel that sparked opponents' anger.
A former senior Stroud District Council officer told the chairman's governance inquiry, held this summer, that the £434.70 bill was paid for by the taxpayer. That was despite councillors being ordered not to spend more than £150 a night on stays in the capital just one to two weeks before. Mr Fellows said the booking had been made by the district council and not by him.
Other documents show Councillor Nigel Studdert-Kennedy had complained about the £434.70 bill, which was for a two-night stay in January 2009. It was later split with local enterprise partnership Gloucestershire First, which Mr Fellows chaired.
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A previously unseen draft report on allowances also showed Mr Fellows filed a receipt for expenses for £83.70 "which included a bottle of Chablis Domaine". He was paid £26.85 of that and a note on the claim said "that the leader agreed only [the] meal should be claimed".
The inquiry held this summer made recommendations on expenses, aimed at tightening up on administering them, and these were approved by the council last month.
The council refused to release minutes of the inquiry meetings for legal reasons, but those and other documents have been seen by Stroud Life. Mr Fellows said he had already been cleared of wrongdoing.
"In those minutes were certain allegations which were investigated by the Standards Board for England and they were dismissed," Mr Fellows told Stroud Life.
"They [the allegations] are still being repeated – this is of great concern to me."
He said he has instructed solicitors to look into that issue.
"I never made my own bookings for accommodation wherever I went," he said.
"It was done through the civic office and I went along with that."
He said he filed receipts which may have been for more than an allowed amount but he expected to foot the bill for the excess.